EMS and public safety crews prepare for total solar eclipse

EMS and Public Safety Crews Prepare for Total Solar Eclipse

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend upon our region on April 8 for the solar eclipse. Rochester is on the center line for the first time in nearly 100 years and is expected to see three minutes and 39 seconds of totality. 

For the better part of a year, those who prepare for emergencies, have been planning for any issue that could arise with what is expected to be an influx of 300,000-500,000 visitors.   

The biggest concern is traffic.

“Certainly DOT is going to be looking at traffic patterns and the normal choke points so, there might be things over at the regional traffic operations center with the lights,” explains Fred Rion, the Rochester Emergency Management director. “If there’s a choke point in a certain area maybe the light stays green longer.”

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says his department will be enforcing all traffic laws in the area in an effort to prevent any accidents that can add to the gridlock.

“We are stockpiling tow trucks to make sure we’ve got resources out there. We’re going to enforce traffic on the throughways. If you stop on the expressway, you’re going to get a ticket and you’re going to be moved, so just keep those things in mind,” he says. 

From a workforce standpoint, it will be all hands on deck.

“RFD, RPD, the county sheriff’s department and fire bureau are all going to have representatives embedded in the 911 center in case call volume increases and they can assist,” says Rion. 

From an EMS perspective, it comes down to time.

“We don’t expect a huge impact on the EMS system because of ill, injured, intoxicated or other patients, we simply expect that what normally would have taken us 45 minutes to go from start to finish, might take us an hour and a half,” explains Dr. Jeremy Cushman, the EMS medical director for both the City of Rochester and Monroe County. 

They’re also assuming cell signal will become an issue.

“We’re going to make sure that we have radios for example, at the hospitals. A dedicated channel so that we can be able to communicate any inbound patients should we have any interruptions in cellular service,” says Dr. Cushman. 

The big events locally are being held at Innovative Field, RMSC, Charlotte Beach, Parcel 5, the Public Market and along the center line at SUNY Brockport.  Events with more than 5,000 people are legally required to have onsite EMS. 

Otherwise, the county and city will be working in the days before the eclipse to ensure the resources they might need will be readily available.

“We’re spreading out our resources and being sure that we can access into those areas, you don’t want to stage your resources inside because then if you can’t get out, you know, that kind of thing,” says Rion. 

And they’re not just stationing resources on land.

“We expect a lot more boating traffic then you would normally expect in April on Lake Ontario too,” says Dr. Cushman.

So, water rescue crews will be ready too. 

Emergency landing zones have been designated across the region for helicopters if traffic slows down any critical cases. 

The best advice from those tasked with keeping everyone safe.

“If you don’t need to drive anywhere, stay where you are, enjoy it from your home or somewhere you can walk or bike to,” says Dr. Cushman.